Different Options for Tooth Whitening: Which is Right for You?
One of the most common procedures in cosmetic dentistry is teeth whitening. This is a simple and effective way to improve the look of your smile, and it can provide a lot of long-term benefits that don’t necessarily have to do with your teeth. A brighter smile can boost your confidence in ways you never imagined.
If you think your teeth are a little dull, you might want to consider getting them whitened. However, there are many different ways to whiten your teeth, and choosing the right treatment can sometimes be difficult. Just like any other kind of procedure, you will want to do some research before deciding which is right for you.
Why Do Teeth Need Whitening?
In the same way a nice white shirt can easily be stained and dirtied over the course of one day, teeth can be just as readily stained and dirtied over the course of your life. Your teeth get exposed to discoloring agents on a daily basis, but some of them can be worse than others. Things such as cigarettes, black coffee, and soda drinks, for example, can be very harsh on the appearance of your teeth.
After continual exposure to staining agents, the teeth begin to absorb them, which causes their discoloration. Some people’s teeth are more readily stained than others based on genetics and tooth malformation. In the same way, some teeth are also better candidates than others for whitening. Before you choose a specific treatment, you might want to get a consultation and decide which one is the best fit for your situation.
Types of Whitening
- In-Office Whitening: This procedure is often one of the most effective. As the name suggests, this treatment is performed by a professional in an office. First, a thin layer of bleaching gel is applied to the patient’s teeth. Then we use a light that acts as an activating agent to the crystals within the gel. The teeth absorb these crystals which get rid of the stains embedded there.
Typically, this treatment only takes one visit of around two hours to see a noticeable difference, depending on the amount of staining in your teeth. For some people, though, such an immediate difference can be off putting, especially if they are embarrassed about getting the treatment.
- Take-Home Trays: Another type of in-office teeth whitening treatment involves the use of custom trays that fit specifically to your teeth. Your dentist will create the trays for you and send you home with them and some whitening gel. Then, in the comfort of your own home, you apply the gel to the trays and wear them in your mouth for a prescribed amount of time, usually around 40 to 60 minutes.
This treatment typically takes a total of 10 to 14 days to complete, although differences can be seen around 3 to 5 days, depending on the amount of staining on your teeth.
- Whitening Strips: Whitening strips are more common for consumer usage, mainly because they are readily available and relatively inexpensive. You can purchase a box of them at most drug stores and supermarkets. There are two kinds of strips available: one for your top teeth and one for your bottom teeth. The strips are each coated with a low concentration whitening gel on one side. The application is easy, as you only have to adhere the strips to your teeth and let them sit for a short amount of time.
The length of this treatment can vary widely, depending on the amount of staining on your teeth, as well as what brand you purchase. Effectiveness can also vary depending on how reliable the product is. Always research the different brands out there and look at customer reviews to see which one will be most effective for you.
- Consumer Trays: If you prefer trays over strips, you can purchase a consumer version of dental trays at most drug stores and supermarkets without having to go to your dentist. These kits come with a set of two trays that can be molded to your teeth after soaking in hot water. After you’ve properly molded them, you apply a small amount of bleaching gel to each tray and let them sit on your teeth for a specified amount of time. Of course, these trays are typically not as effective as professional-grade trays, and they can take longer to be effective.
- Whitening Toothpaste: Finally, if these options seem too expensive for you, there is always whitening toothpaste. This kind of toothpaste is widely available almost anywhere you can purchase dental hygiene products, and it offers a rather simple treatment. However, whitening toothpaste is not nearly as effective as the above-listed treatments and should really only be used to deal with surface stains.
Brighten Your Smile
In the end, any whitening treatment should be chosen with one purpose in your mind: to effectively brighten your smile.
Some solutions work better than others for certain people. What works for your friends might not work for you. The best way to get the right treatment for your teeth is to consult with a cosmetic dentist. We have a lot of experience examining teeth and determining what kind of whitening will work best for yours.